It’s a family affair: Ticklebelly Lane Bakery, Lincoln

Family matters at The Ticklebelly Lane Bakery and Tea House. And this family-run business wants its customers to feel at home in its site just off Lincoln’s High Street.

“We wanted to create a place where people felt comfortable, a place for them to relax and be part of the Ticklebelly family,” explains Vicky Cook, operations manager and wife of co-owner James. A former headteacher, Vicky has recently moved away from education to help James and his mum Julie, Ticklebelly’s other owner, taking charge of a range of tasks across the business. 

Those visiting the site have a choice of three rooms in which to cosy up, including The Bakers’ Suite and Attic that offers a selection of armchairs and nooks in which to escape. The decor across all floors is homely, with walls hand-painted by Vicky, trinkets, and chalkboard sayings such as ‘a balanced diet is a cake in both hands’.

It took a lot of work to convert the former photo shop into a homely setting. “It needed a little bit of TLC and a big bank balance,” says Vicky (James chuckles in the background suggesting she is being modest). “It took longer than planned and cost a bit more but it was worth it.”

On arrival, shoppers are greeted by an impressive window display stacked with a variety of loaves from Ticklebelly’s top seller, sourdough, to the unusual Dragon’s Tail (see box out), focaccia, ciabatta and bakery staples of white and brown loaves. Sweet treats, including vegan and gluten-free options, and handmade sausage rolls topped with pastry pigs adorn the counter.

While the pastries, cakes and other fare are prepared on-site by chef Dwayne and the team, the bread is made just outside the city at Ticklebelly’s dedicated bakehouse and delivered daily. The bakehouse also serves the business’s commercial contracts, including Doddington Hall, the local Waterstones café and nearby events firms.

At the shop, it’s clear the locals are taken with Ticklebelly’s products by the way they interact with the staff. “The feedback from the locals has been great,” notes Vicky. “One woman told us ‘Lincoln needs a proper bread the way it used to be made’. She now comes in regularly.”

With a menu covering breakfast, lunch and dinner, visitors can even stay late into the evening as the bakery hosts its first few Cake & Cocktails, Prosecco & Puddings night and other experience days. With that much to stay for, they’ll have to convince customers to leave.

Who:  James and Vicky Cook
(pictured with their two children), respectively owner and operations manager, Ticklebelly Lane Bakery

What: Ticklebelly Lane Bakery and Tea House is just off Lincoln High Street and comprises a traditional bakery shop front with three floors dedicated to relaxing with cake and a cuppa or participating in an Italian bread baking class.

Where: 5 Guildhall Street, Lincoln, LN1 1TT

When: The bakery and tea house opened in November 2017, but the business has been a home bakery since 2010.

Why: “We started off in our kitchen and grew and grew,” says Vicky. “The new site was a natural step for us – it’s about moving away from being the name behind other people’s food to putting the Ticklebelly stamp on Lincoln.”

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